Recovering from a Coronary

Short Film, 1970 (Full Length)

Made for the National Heart Foundation, this 1970 documentary shows “a rehabilitation programme for patients with coronary heart disease”, devised by Otago University Medical School and the NZ School of Physiotherapy. The film is framed around a doctor addressing a class of nursing students, and follows a “coronary club” of patients through PE rehab to being able to work, garden and play golf again. The film also imparts general health lessons to avoid heart disease (exercise, quit smoking, lose weight). It was made by the National Film Unit.

Asthma and Your Child

Short Film, 1967 (Full Length)

This 1967 NFU instructional film demonstrates breathing exercises developed by Bernice ‘Bunny’ Thompson, to help children suffering from asthma and bronchitis. The film was based on the pioneering physiotherapist's 1963 book of the same name. Director Frank Chilton won renown for his documentaries dealing with the health and welfare needs of children. Asthma and Your Child was commissioned by the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, and was an early example of a privately-funded socially-useful film. The animation of respiratory processes is by Morrow Productions.

Weekly Review No. 367 - Crippled Children Society

Short Film, 1948 (Full Length)

This postwar Weekly Review joins a welfare officer from the Crippled Children’s Society on her Wellington rounds: advising parents, chaperoning children to hospitals to undergo physical and speech therapy, and overseeing the supply of specialist footwear and splints. There’s also a Kiwi take on Heidi as a boy is offered a farm holiday, walking on crutches among the cows: “No care and treatment can substitute for the uplift of two weeks in the country.” Released in September 1948, the film was made by decorated war correspondent Stan Wemyss (grandfather of Russell Crowe).

The Treatment of Cerebral Palsy in New Zealand

Film, 1955 (Full Length)

This 65 minute long documentary looks at the treatment of New Zealand children born with cerebral palsy (a set of conditions which affect motor control, caused by brain defects that typically occur around pregnancy and birth). Made for the Department of Health, the National Film Unit production visits a specialist unit in Rotorua, to praise the understanding and care applied to help the ‘cerebral palsied’ live full lives. Director Frank Chilton was made an OBE for services to handicapped children. This film won a Diploma of Merit at the 1957 Edinburgh Film Festival.

Attitude - Rotationplasty: My Backwards Foot

Television, 2014 (Full Length Episode)

In this Attitude episode, 14-year-old Sean Prendeville faces up to a complex and radical surgery: rotationplasty. For the bone cancer survivor the operation involves attaching his lower leg to the hip joint, rotating it and using the ankle as a ‘hinge’ for a prosthetic limb. The programme tracks the nature-mad Sean’s journey, from pre-surgery anxiety to rehab on his backwards right foot/knee; and the things that helped him through: his blue tongue lizard, challenge beads, Mum and family, and design student Jessica Quinn (who underwent the procedure when she was younger).

To Help a Crippled Child

Short Film, 1972 (Full Length)

This 1972 NFU documentary looks at the care of children born with physical disabilities. Aimed at families with ‘crippled’ children, the film was directed by Frank Chilton for the Crippled Children Society (now CCS Disability Action). Parents, doctors, teachers and field officers are shown engaging with children and young adults at home and in the community, from spring-loaded splints for spina bifida patients to Māori stick games as therapy for cerebral palsy. It is introduced by Mrs New Zealand 1970, Alison Henry (whose son was born with a congenital foot defect).

An Abbreviated Life: Sarah's Story Living with Cystic Fibrosis

Television, 2008 (Full Length)

Sarah is a charismatic, confident 18 year old, about to leave school, head to uni and go flatting. What she doesn't tell many people is that on top of coping with the travails of teenagehood, she also has cystic fibrosis and a life expectancy of 32. A serious lung infection could kill her within days. When her army parents shift to Australia, she is left alone in a new town, responsible for the first time for her own physiotherapy and relentless medication. The spirit-affirming DOCNZ finalist was directed by Anna Cottrell and Jan Jeans, and screened on TV One.